Authors : Rege, Sangeeta; Bhate-Deosthali, Padma
Published Year: 2019
Health and Human Rights Journal, Vol.21, No.2, 2019, pp. 189 - 198
Access to abortion is desperately needed when pregnancy is the result of rape, both within and outside marriage, and especially when a girl has been raped. The availability of services remains highly restricted because of the way abortion providers interpret the law. This paper presents the experiences of 40 rape survivors, including two children, denied an abortion following rape. The cases were recorded by CEHAT (Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes) in the course of building capacities of public hospitals to respond to violence against women in Mumbai, India, since 2000. We found that enormous damage is inflicted on women and girls by misinterpretation of the laws on abortion and rape, combined with a lack of understanding of the serious damage rape does, particularly repeated rape, and alongside other forms of assault and abuse. Domestic laws in India place a clear legal responsibility on health professionals to offer immediate care and treatment to rape survivors, including timely access to abortion. It is past due time for both the government and the courts to begin to hold themselves and health professionals accountable for ensuring this care is provided.